PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When you are out and about in the city of Providence, you never know what you may find.
And that was evident when we ran into Thom O’Shaughnessy.
A man who has been skating all his life will teach everyone and anyone how to skate with a big smile on his face.
The man, who is in his 60’s, ice skates around the heart of downtown Providence like a man half his age, and twice the spirit.
Three days a week, O’Shaughnessy comes out to skate and dresses in attire akin to 1867.
“I had a double replacement on my knees, so I’m a bionic ice skater I guess,” joked O’Shaughnessy.
He skates with so much life and emotion, it’s hard not to see him.
“My grandson, he’ll say, ‘Grampy, people are looking at you.’ And his father says, ‘Don’t worry about it, William,'” said O’Shaughnessy, “‘Grampy doesn’t care what people think.'”
But usually people will come around, even the teenagers who may have originally been poking fun.
“They give me this like, check this guy out, this old geezer,” he said. “I can see the smirk on their face and they laugh. But a half hour later, they say, ‘Hey mister, can you teach me how to skate backwards?'”
The teaching comes easy to him, since it was his job before he retired. O’Shaughnessy spent 34 years of his life teaching special education to kids in Johnston, Cranston, and Providence.
He has even taught blind children how to walk with a cane and some of his blind students have gone ice skating with him.
But when skating by himself, he never realized how much of an effect he could make on someone’s day.
“A lady who works in this building behind me, she came down and waved me over and said, ‘Sir I’ve gotta talk to you,'” he said, ‘”I’ve had the worst morning up in my office and I was ready to cry and I saw you ice skating and I looked out the window and you just made my day…just by dancing.”‘
There is nothing more that he would like to do then just have fun while skating.
“I dream when I’m awake. So when I’m awake and I’m out there ice skating, listening to the music and it turns into an adventure. So I’ve had a great day and it was real,” he said.
Thom believes that since life has been good to him, that he should enjoy every moment.
And who knows, maybe the next time you head on over with your ice skates to the Providence rink, O’Shaughnessy could give you a free lesson.